Dry zone agriculture basically belongs to fragile, high risking and low productive agricultural eco-system. It plays a significant role in agricultural landscape of the country.
This spreads over those areas of the country where annual amount of rainfall is less than 75 cm (Table 8. XVI). Dry lands cover about 31,709,000 ha. of the country’s area (22% of the total agricultural land). More than three-fifth of the area of Rajasthan and one-fifth of Gujarat is in the form of dry lands. Besides, there are small pockets of dry land in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. These areas face the problems of low and erratic precipitations, frequent occurrence of droughts, and high temperature with high wind velocity resulting into severe wind erosion hazards.
Dry land is an agriculturally dominated region wherein 72% of population (national average 67%) is dependent on agriculture. Here agriculture occupies (65%) of the total geographical area while 2.9% of the area is occupied by permanent pastures, 20% by cultivable waste and 12.1% by barren lands. Due to low productivity it grows 2.41% of the country’s food grains including jowar, bajra, maize, cotton, groundnut, pulses and oil seeds.
Following are the problems of dry zone agriculture:
1. Here rainfall is scarce and uncertain which makes the region susceptible to droughts and famines.
2. Here soil is sandy which lacks nutrient materials (carbonic/organic) for soil fertility.
3. The area is prone to the menacing problem of soil erosion.
4. The growing period of crops in dry lands is longer and is less affected by the cropping seasons. These crops yield low harvest and are more susceptible to droughts, pests and diseases. The use of new technology and farming practices is lacking in such areas.
5. Majority of the farmers in the areas of dry zone agriculture are poor which prevents the use of modern inputs in agriculture. Fields are scattered and the use of new farm machineries lacking.
6. These areas lack such infrastructural facilities like market, transport/storage, refrigeration etc. Farmers are not able to get remunerative prices for their agricultural products.